Aerial Adventure Introduces Stratomaster Flight Information System

"Simplified Version" Will Be Offered and Will Cost Less

Here's the view looking over the nosewheel of a trike fitted with a Stratomaster flight information system, offering all instrumentation in a single pod. The Stratomaster unit includes computer chip memory for your flight log, storing information (such as date and time of takeoff, duration of flight, and maximum speed and altitude reached) on up to 240 flights, as well as a wealth of other flight information and features.

Lucian Bartosik of Aerial Adventure is selling a new flight information system (FIS) loaded with features and functions. The instrument's claim to fame may well be its accuracy. Bartosik claims the new flight information system has "literally, scientific lab accuracy," having been developed in a "high-tech lab environment."

Produced by MGL Avionics in England, the Stratomaster flight information system offers a rather daunting list of features/functions, including (but not limited to):

* Altimeter - Zero-to-40,000-foot doubly temperature-compensated altimeter, displaying altitude in increments of 1 foot or 1 meter (3.28 feet). The altimeter can be user-calibrated, and has a 7.5-foot static resolution and 1-foot dynamic resolution, according to Aerial Adventure. "The dynamic resolution (with the aircraft moving) has been made possible by mathematically evaluating the turbulence created around the aircraft," Aerial Adventure says. "The unit uses a micromachined silicon diaphragm sensor and an absolute vacuum reference of the highest stability and accuracy." The altimeter has QNH (an international abbreviation for "mean sea level") and QFE (international abbreviation for "above ground level") settings. "The QNH setting can be shown in millibars or inches of mercury," Aerial Adventure notes.

* Airspeed indicator (ASI) or true airspeed (TAS) - Displays your airspeed from 16 to 200 mph. User calibration is possible to account for Pitot tube placement.

* Tachometer - With a range up to 9,999 rpm, it's "suitable for any engine," Aerial Adventure notes, "even with an odd number of pulses per revolution. Pickups are from Rotax ignition, magnetos, via capacitive coupling from spark-plug lead or from IR reflective sensors (direct from the prop, for example)."

* Water/engine temperature gauge - Displays water/engine temperature in degrees Celsius or degrees Fahrenheit. Uses a Rotax sender. Calibrated against a laboratory thermometer.

* Glide slope ratio indicator - Displays your glide slope from 1-to-1 to 99-to-1, "This display is shown when the instrument detects you are gliding," Aerial Adventure says. "Instantaneous calculation of your forward speed versus vertical speed is provided. Uses true airspeed (TAS) for maximum accuracy."

* Climb ratio indicator - Shows the ratio of climb to forward movement. This is useful in determining the best rate of climb versus the best angle of climb performance of your ultralight, according to Aerial Adventure.

* Takeoff distance measurement - "This establishes your ultralight's takeoff distance in meters to clearing the standard 50-foot obstacle," the company says. "This is a very useful feature for aircraft designers, and also for owners who want to optimize their ultralight's performance. This feature is also used to optimize climb performance if you have an adjustable propeller. In this case, the unit is used to measure the forward air distance required to gain 50 feet of altitude."

* Density altitude measurement - "This secondary altimeter shows the density altitude at your current location taking pressure altitude and ambient temperature into account," Aerial Adventure says. "This, in turn, can be used to calculate your ultralight's takeoff distance for current local conditions."

* Stopwatch - Can be used as a flight leg timer, or for competitions, according to Aerial Adventure. Functions provided are start/stop and reset. Range is 99 hours, 59 minutes.

* Air-distance-made-good trip counter - "This is a resettable 'trip counter' based on TAS and time," Aerial Adventure says. "The instrument can be set up to automatically reset the air distance counter at the start of a flight."

* Remaining fuel display - Uses a standard low-cost automotive float level sender (not included in the Stratomaster's price). "The instrument has a calibration procedure that recognizes the fuel tank shape and fuel capacity," Aerial Adventure notes. "This results in direct and accurate readout of remaining fuel in liters, or U.S. or Imperial gallons."

* Fuel flow display - This feature uses a fuel flow sender (not included in the basic price of the Stratomaster unit). This sender can also be used to calculate remaining fuel (if you haven't installed a fuel level sender). "In this case," Aerial Adventure says, "you can enter your current fuel tank level in liters, or U.S. or Imperial gallons, and the instrument will calculate your remaining fuel."

Had enough features/functions yet? Well, we're not done yet - there are more. The Stratomaster flight information system also offers:

* Air distance range - "The two probably most-useful displays (if fuel flow and remaining fuel features are available) are air distance range and bingo fuel time estimates, based on current performance," Aerial Adventure points out. "Air distance range gives calculated range based on current TAS speed, fuel flow and fuel remaining. Bingo time estimate gives remaining engine running time on available fuel based on fuel flow and fuel remaining."

* Ambient temperature - An accurate semiconductor sender for this feature is included in the Stratomaster's price, according to Aerial Adventure.

* Hourmeter - Hobbs meter records up to 9,999 hours and 59 minutes, and is presettable to current engine time.

* Engine maintenance counter - This presettable counter counts down engine time. "It can be used for maintenance tasks, such as regularly replacing spark plugs, etc.," Aerial Adventure says.

* Automatic flight detection - Automatically detects when you're airborne. However, it is also possible to set the instrument to record flights based on manual start/stop only, according to Aerial Adventure.

* Flight duration - Indicates duration of current flight from takeoff or manual start-of-flight input.

* Time of day - Displays current time of day in hours and minutes. This feature can be used to display Coordinated Universal Time for pilots flying across time zones.

* Flight log - "Every flight is stored in a log for later retrieval," Aerial Adventure explains. "The log contains up to 240 flights. Each flight stores date and time of takeoff, duration of flight, and maximum speed and altitude reached."

* Instructor/Lesson mode - The instrument can be set up to record in the internal logbook stored in its memory "lessons" rather than individual flights. In this mode of the flight log feature, a log entry stores a lesson, even if it's made up of multiple flights. Each lesson can be stored under a student number. "Lessons are subject to a number of criteria for accumulation of time," the company says. "Refer to the instruction manual for further details and options."

* Voltmeter - Displays current system voltage. "This is useful in checking for charging/overcharging of batteries, etc.," Aerial Adventure says.

* Barometer - "A barometer has been included to show local atmospheric pressure in millibars or inches of mercury," the company says. "This barometer is a precision instrument, with a range of 200 to 1,200 millibars."

Power-supply protection is provided via "a fast Tranzorb to prevent destruction by spikes caused by inductive loads," the company says. "Two independent 'watchdogs' are provided to detect any software malfunction (software crashes) and facilitate automatic recovery."

The unit can operate for about 18 hours on a 9-volt PP3 alkaline battery if the display backlight is disconnected, according to Aerial Adventure. (There is a setting on the rear of the unit for disconnecting the backlight.) "The unit can continue to operate down to about 7 volts," the company claims. "Normally, the unit will be connected to either 12-volt or 24/28-volt aircraft power supplies." It is possible to use a 9-volt battery as emergency backup power for the flight information system, according to Aerial Adventure. "This requires the installation of a simple two-diode decoupling bridge," the company explains. (Details on the required wiring are in the instruction manual.)

For the Stratomaster's dimensions, Aerial Adventure lists: 224 by 64 millimeters (8.8 by 2.5 inches), with a mounting depth (including connectors and wiring) of 65 mm (2.6 inches). Panel cutout is 204 by 54 mm (approximately 8 by 2.1 inches). Weight of the Stratomaster FIS is listed at 450 grams (15 3/4 ounces).

"The current U.S. dollar price of the Stratomaster flight information system for orders direct from the factory is $479 plus shipping and insurance," Aerial Adventure says. Any additional taxes or customs duties that may apply are not included in this price, the company notes. Bartosik indicates a simplified (and less costly) version of the Stratomaster flight information system will be available in the U.S. by the time you read this, at a price expected to be "less than $400."

"This instrument is capable of far more than we have the space to describe here," Bartosik concludes. Contact Aerial Adventure (below) for further information and details.

- Buzz Chalmers

Info sheet: free. CD-ROM manual: $3. Aerial Adventure, 2916-B Old Clarksville Pike, Dept. UF, Hopkinsville, KY 42240. Phone: (270) 881-1369 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .